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FTC takes on 'Rachel from cardholder services'

"At the FTC, Rachel from Cardholder Services is public enemy number one," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said.

"At the FTC, Rachel from Cardholder Services is public enemy number one," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. // Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday took "Rachel from Cardholder Services" down a notch as the agency cracked down on five companies accused of making millions of illegal robocalls.

The FTC obtained court orders temporarily blocking the companies after receiving hundreds of thousands of complaints over deceptive prerecorded calls, including ones that feature "Rachel." The companies, which are based in Arizona and Florida, are accused of scamming consumers by tricking them into paying bogus upfront fees in order to reduce credit card debt.

"At the FTC, Rachel from Cardholder Services is public enemy number one," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement. "We're cracking down on illegal robocalls by bringing law enforcement actions and pursuing technical solutions to the problem."

Last month Leibowitz announced a program offering a $50,000 award to college students or other individuals or small companies who come up with a new solution that blocks illegal robocalls but allows legitimate calls to go through. It must be easy to use and deploy and work much better in tackling the robocall problem than other technologies on the market today, FTC officials said.

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// April 17